Has History Finally Caught Up With Roger Stone? It May Be Up to Trump
He embraced the “dark arts” of political sabotage and trickery for decades. Now he will serve more than three years in prison, unless his friend the president bails him out.
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The Democratic candidates are all debating a singular issue. New polls offer insights, not answers.
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Reflections on a night of bickering, one-line zingers and occasional solidarity.
How Amy Klobuchar Suddenly Became a Rival Worth Attacking
Ms. Klobuchar was helped by newspaper endorsements and a relative lack of scrutiny from other candidates — until Wednesday night’s debate.
President Declares the Winner of the Democratic Debate: Donald Trump
Exuberant over the candidates’ performances, he continued his tour through the West.
ViacomCBS plans streaming service
NEW YORK — ViacomCBS is planning a new streaming service that will combine the existing CBS All Access service with Paramount movies and shows from Viacom channels such as MTV and BET.
The move had been expected since CBS and Viacom combined in August to better compete in the increasingly competitive streaming environment.
CBS was one of the first media companies to launch its own streaming service. Its $6-a-month service CBS All Access includes original programming such as new “Star Trek” series and a revival of “The Twilight Zone.” The service also has old and current broadcast shows.
Since then, Disney launched its $7-a-month Disney Plus service, while Comcast’s NBCUniversal and AT&T’s WarnerMedia have services coming, tapping movies and shows from their channels and production studios. The companies are all trying to challenge Netflix, Amazon and other established players in the streaming arena as their channels face challenges from people ditching cable TV subscriptions.
In a call Thursday with investors, CEO Bob Bakish said ViacomCBS plans to add “substantial content” to CBS All Access to create a “combined ‘House of Brand’ product.”
That means adding content from Viacom properties Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, BET and Smithsonian and movies from the Paramount library.
Bakish said the new service is designed to fill the gap between ViacomCBS’ free ad-supported service, PlutoTV, and its premium Showtime service, which costs $11 a month. It is set to launch later this year. Bakish did not say how much the new service will cost or whether its name will remain CBS All Access.
The CBS and Showtime streaming services now have 11 million monthly active users combined. ViacomCBS is targeting 16 million by the end of the year. PlutoTV has 22 million monthly active users, and ViacomCBS is targeting 30 million by the end of the year.
Separately, WarnerMedia said it reached a deal with Google’s YouTube TV service to offer the upcoming HBO Max as an add-on to YouTube TV’s $50-a-month subscription. It will cost extra, but the price wasn’t immediately disclosed.
HBO Max will cost $15 on its own, though some AT&T customers will get it for free. AT&T has said it was working on deals to bundle HBO Max with other companies that offer HBO to their services.
Struggling Victoria’s Secret sold
NEW YORK — Victoria’s Secret, which once defined sexy with its leggy supermodels in their lacy bras and oversized angel wings, has a new owner.
Now, the big question is whether the once sought after but now struggling brand can be reinvented for a new generation of women demanding more comfortable styles.
The company’s owner, L Brands, said Thursday that the private-equity firm Sycamore Partners will buy 55 percent of Victoria’s Secret for about $525 million. The Columbus, Ohio, company will keep the remaining 45 percent stake. After the sale, L Brands will be left with its Bath & Body Works chain and Victoria’s Secret will become a private company.
Les Wexner, 82, who founded the parent company in 1963, will step down as chairman and CEO after the transaction is completed and become chairman emeritus. Wexner has been grappling with his own troubles, including questions over his ties to the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was indicted on sex-trafficking charges.
The selling price for Victoria’s Secret signifies a marked decline for a brand with hundreds of stores that booked about $7 billion in revenue last year. Shares of L Brands slid more than 7 percent Thursday though they recovered somewhat by late afternoon. Shares were down nearly 4 percent, or 88 cents, to close at $23.42.
In a statement, Wexner said the deal will provide the best path to restoring Victoria’s Secret’s businesses to their ”historical levels of profitability and growth.” The deal will also allow the company to reduce debt and Sycamore will bring a “fresh perspective and greater focus to the business, ” he said.Designing for men
To successfully turn around Victoria’s Secret, Sycamore will need to change up the corporate culture, reinvent the fashions and redesign the stores to make them more contemporary, experts say. Sycamore manages a $10 billion portfolio including such struggling retailers as Belk, Hot Topic and Talbots.
The management team at Victoria’s Secret essentially was designing what men want, not what women want, said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail.
“The brand is very embedded in the past,” said Saunders. “It was always about men feeling good. It should be about making women feel good about themselves.”
Victoria’s Secret had a long unparalleled run of success. The brand was founded by the late Roy Larson Raymond in the late 1970s after he felt embarrassed about purchasing lingerie for his wife. Wexner, the founder of the then Limited Stores Inc., purchased Victoria’s Secret in 1982 and turned it into a powerful retail force. By the mid-1990s, Victoria’s Secret lit up runways and later filled the internet with its supermodels and an annual television special that mixed fashion, beauty and music.
That glamour has faded and so have sales in the last few years. The show was canceled last year, and shares of Victoria Secret’s parent have gone from triple digits less than five years ago to a quarter of that today.
Victoria’s Secret struggled to keep up with competition and failed to respond to changing tastes among women who want more comfortable styles. Rivals like Adore Me and ThirdLove, which have sprouted up online and marketed themselves heavily on social media platforms like Instagram, have focused on fit and comfort while offering more options for different body types. Meanwhile, American Eagle’s Aerie lingerie chain, which partners with women activists like Manuela Baron, has also lured customers away from Victoria’s Secret.
And in the era of the #MeToo movement, women are looking for brands that focus on positive reinforcement of their bodies.
”Victoria’s Secret will need to empower women, not make them spectacles,” said Jon Reily, senior vice president and global head of commerce strategy at digital consultancy Isobar.
Stacey Widlitz, president of SW Retail Advisors, a retail consultancy, said that Victoria’s Secret designs in the last few years were going in the opposite direction of what women wanted, ever sexier and poorer quality.
And while last year Victoria’s Secret started featuring more diverse models, including its first openly transgender model, the moves fell short.
Victoria’s Secret suffered a 12 percent drop in same-store sales during the most recent holiday season. L Brands said Thursday that same-store sales declined 10 percent at Victoria’s Secret during the fourth quarter. Bath & Body Works, which has been a bright spot, enjoyed a 10 percent increase.
Larry Tesler, pioneer of ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ for computers, dies
NEW YORK — Larry Tesler, the Silicon Valley pioneer who created the now-ubiquitous computer concepts such as “cut,” “copy” and “paste,” has died. He was 74.
He made using computers easier for generations as a proponent and pioneer of what he called “modeless editing.” That meant a user wouldn’t have to use a keyboard to switch between modes to write and edit, for example.
“The inventor of cut/copy & paste, find & replace, and more was former Xerox researcher Larry Tesler. Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas,” Xerox said in a tweet Wednesday.
Tesler was born in New York and attended Stanford University, where he received a degree in mathematics in 1965.
In 1973, he joined Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, a division of the copier company that worked on creating computer products. There, he pioneered concepts that helped make computers more user-friendly. That included such concepts as moving text through cut and paste and inserting text by clicking on a section and just typing.
He continued that work when he joined Apple in 1980. At Apple, he worked on a variety of products including the Lisa computer, the Newton personal digital assistant and the Macintosh.
After leaving Apple in 1997 he co-founded an education software company and held executive positions at Amazon, Yahoo and the genetics-testing service 23andMe before turning to independent consulting.
In 2012, Tesler told the BBC that he enjoyed working with younger people.
“There’s a very strong element of excitement, of being able to share what you’ve learned with the next generation,” he said.
‘We just want a place to live,’ Woodland RV park tenants tell judge
LONGVIEW — Attorneys sparred and tenants aired concerns over the Lewis River RV Park in Cowlitz Superior Court on Wednesday, but property owner Jerry Reeves is still — for now — expected to keep the lights on at the park.
Judge Michael Evans made no decision Wednesday in the case, in which a tenants’ association seeks to force Reeves to supply electricity and garbage disposal to the Woodland-area park. The hearing will require at least a second day to hear more testimony and attorneys’ closing statements.
Lewis River RV Park is a permanent home for many residents, some of whom are seniors or disabled. The property has bounced back and forth between Reeves and John Berman, the attorney for the estate of his late ex-wife. The complex legal battle led to a Jan. 16 shutoff notice to park residents because the parties could not agree who had to furnish power and other services to the park. (Individual park spaces do not have meters; residents pay for services through their rent.)
Northwest Justice Project attorney Lisa Waldvogel, who represents the homeowner’s association, says tenants are still in limbo more than a month after they first faced the threat of losing power.
“We just want a place to live,” park tenant David Bookman testified. “To receive the services we paid for.”
Waldvogel said tenants are concerned Reeves won’t supply power unless he’s forced to. Residents are protected under the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act, Waldvogel argued, which means Reeves must maintain utilities to the roughly 75 RVs in the park.
“Residents fear … they will lose electric and water, and this will be devastating because they’re powerless to manage the utilities on an individual basis,” Waldvogel said in an opening statement.
Some tenants testified they did not believe that Reeves would continue providing power without a judicial order. Resident James Jourdan acknowledged a three-month period in which he didn’t pay rent, but he said that’s because Reeves wasn’t taking care of the park, leading to power and water interruptions. He said he’d repeatedly tried to tell Reeves and management about the problems.
“When it rains heavily, we have a drain that doesn’t work correctly,” Jourdan said. “I walked out in 3 or 4 inches of water to get to my vehicles. Jerry stood out there in front of me and my family and said that if I pay him rent, he’d come out and get my yard fixed. … No, you get my yard fixed and I’ll pay you rent.”
When Berman took over the park in March 2019, Jourdan said, he started paying rent again: “At least John Berman attempted to fix things as far as my drain issues … my Wi-Fi was working, the (park’s communal) bathrooms were getting cleaned.”
Reeves continues to argue he is merely the landowner, not the operator of the RV Park: “Basically, they sued the wrong person,” he said in an opening statement.
There is no evidence he had any contract with the tenants, Reeves said. “It’s not a Jerry Reeves problem,” he said, referring to himself.
But “as the landowner, he has a responsibility and duty to manage the tenants and residents,” Waldvogel replied. “It’s our position he’s the landowner, he’s the owner.”
Evans declined Reeves’ motion to resolve the case early in his favor, citing the murky nature of the ownership debate: “The landowner and business entity purveyor, that connection is difficult to separate,” he said. “I think the direct verdict would be premature.”
Berman collected rent through Jan. 12, according to court testimony. Reeves has possessed the park since Jan. 14. Rent, which includes utility costs, is currently being collected through a court-appointed custodian.
Reeves signed up for power after Evans ordered him to do so earlier in February. That order came after three weeks of uncertainty for park residents in which the PUD had threatened to cut off power while Reeves declined to sign up for service. Community donations held off the shutoffs, but the PUD was scheduled to cut service Feb. 4 if Reeves failed to open a power account.
The temporary order required Reeves to make regular payments for the PUD bill and work with Waste Management to haul away the park’s garbage on a regular basis at least until the matter is addressed again in court.
Reeves told The Daily News then that he planned to comply and keep operating the park while the legal dispute continues, and said that from his perspective he’d already complied with Wednesday’s injunction.
Report: Intel officials say Russia boosting Trump candidacy
WASHINGTON — Intelligence officials say Russia is interfering with the 2020 election to try to help President Donald Trump get reelected, The New York Times reported Thursday.
The Times said intelligence officials told lawmakers about the interference in a Feb. 13 closed-door briefing to the House Intelligence Committee. It said the disclosure angered Trump, who complained the Democrats would use the information against him. He berated the outgoing director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, the next day.
The Times attributed the report to five unidentified people familiar with the matter. The Associated Press could not immediately confirm the account.
U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia interfered in the 2016 election through social media campaigns and stealing and distributing emails from Democratic accounts. They say Russia was trying to boost Trump’s campaign and add chaos to the American political process. Special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that Russian interference was “sweeping and systematic,” but he did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign. Trump has doubted the findings of Russian interference.
In the House briefing, Trump’s allies challenged the DNI’s chief election official, Shelby Pierson, who delivered the conclusions, saying Trump has been tough on Russia, the Times reported. But Trump has also spoken warmly of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and withdrawn troops from areas, like Syria, where Moscow could fill the vacuum. He delayed military aid last year to Ukraine, a Russian adversary — a decision that was at the core of his impeachment proceedings.
The Times said Trump was angry that the House briefing was made before the panel’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, who led the impeachment proceedings.
Trump on Thursday formally appointed Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany and a loyal supporter, to replace Maguire as the new acting director of national intelligence. Maguire was required to step down soon under federal law governing acting appointments. The Times cited two administration officials as saying the timing, after the intelligence briefing, was coincidental.
At an open hearing this month, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Judiciary Committee that Russia was engaged in “information warfare” heading into the November election, but that law enforcement had not seen efforts to target America’s infrastructure. He said Russia is relying on a covert social media campaign to divide the American public and sow discord.